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Twenty-Five going on Thirty

Note: The following is an absurdly personal projection of anxiety.

Having turned twenty-five earlier this year, and it’s impossible not to realise that there are roughly five more years until my single, barely employable, living back in the family home status is completely abhorrent to anyone with an ounce of self-respect.

Settle down they say, as many do at this point in their life (though millennials are increasing this age by the minute), get a stable job with a good income and career prospects in a field you have a keen passion for (yes try this when you have a 2:2 degree in radio and have had several awful jobs in the past year). And of course, find yourself a place to live and make your home, (indeed do this as a single male on minimum wage paying off a University overdraft, a credit card and house rent).

These indeed all sound like completely sad and if anything bullshit excuses, but these are realities that I and a large number of the population are faced with that are completely unavoidable in their significantly urgent existences. Despite the odds being stacked against us, there is a deeply ferocious desire to tackle these problems which are increasingly endemic in the current day.

Being Twenty-Five raises the volume on the swirling voices begging to have these basic needs and desires tended to with dextrous wit and the utmost care.
The broken horizon should be littered with plans, things to look forward to and goals to be netted, and yet the glitter of prosperity is indeed fogged with clouds of uncertainty.

Then where do we even begin?
The most painstaking of them all perhaps, romance?

No romantic interests on this horizon, regardless of the undeniable yearning for the affection of a partner and despite these churning yearnings, there is no single intention to have a romantic interest, let alone a partner.
The risks are far too great at this moment in time; in times of uncertainty what one needs above all is concrete ground to stand upon and at least a view of more solids on which to stand in the near and far future.
A new relationship would lend itself only momentarily to the cement mixer but only to clog it and turn far too stogie as the spins reveal cracks in the floor before it had even begun to exist.

And beyond that, were there to be no cracks, no problems, no worries, that is only for the foreseeable future. Women this age (mid-twenties) are seeking a man ready for the deepest of all commitments, and desire long standing emotional contracts with which you fulfil their needs and they yours. Indeed it’s a beautiful thing and envy is the only word that springs to mind when considering those who are capable of delivering such heavy goods.

The social media feed is growing rampant with pictures of fresh, new born children in the arms of those I spent time learning or partying with. And, untraditionally my response is to shudder and feel sorry for these people seemingly ‘happy’ with their fleshy amalgam of shared genes.
These seemingly concrete and powerful eventualities of human life only bring with them one additional certainty and one alone, that is that you can produce a child; other than that, what you have done is begun to turn the key to your very own Pandora’s Box.
And that is something anyone should avoid if they are not certain it is what they want or know it to be a weight that they cannot hope to carry. It’s not just your life that you’re fucking with now.

So, with no clear line of career, the previously mentioned topic should not even be within the scope of possibility. Having no idea of where things are going and no confidence in the semi-motivated, semi-aggressive pursuit of the ‘big dream’.

Whilst confronted daily with ‘entry level’ positions with a salary range of £11,000 – £20,000 a year that require a year minimum experience and proven track record, is it any wonder why minimum wage work is so popular with graduates now? Did we perhaps enter in to the University game too late when the fee’s trebled in size and the graduate workforce became too saturated? (My guess is yes). This generation of highly educated hard working grads is taking a pounding from the Job markets inability to facilitate such a huge number of fresh graduates with more debt than ever in a world where the economy is bust.

All this potential for prosperity and yet, two years past graduation, there has been a deep swell of rejection emails and phone calls to verify that you have not got the job, for reasons such as ‘the other candidate lived closer’, they ‘negotiated a lower wage’ (yes that does happen), ‘you lacked the experience despite this being a job that comes with training’. The list goes on and rarely does it come down to lack of skill and at times it has come down to being ‘over experienced’ and the employer has a ‘fear of holding me back’ from what I truly wish to do in life. Which is one of the most insulting phrases I have ever heard as if that was the case, I wouldn’t be here.

It’s pure savagery, and frankly it’s exhausting.

So if you haven’t had a child yet, or a secure job with a decent career and a partner, then you most certainly have not come close to flying the nest.
You most certainly did if you went to university and were fortunate enough to find yourself in a position to stay in your University town, but things aren’t always so simple nor are they easy for the average working class graduate.
Then again, sometimes you have to bite the bullet, and move back in with the family.
What an adjustment, what a knife to the pride in your spine. You were so close.

But here you are, twenty-something and back with the family, what a god awful situation, independence graced your lips like the first sip of a hot drink in the morning and with haste spilt itself all over your now scolded crotch.
With ‘generation rent’ as the current housing meme, we find ourselves at a difficult fork in the road; to your left is cohabitation with your partner, friends, family or complete strangers and to your right is remaining at home with the family. Because a bedsit with shared kitchen and showers at dismal squat like conditions with nosebleed London prices of £600+ a month. Or  cute and quant studios upwards of £900 a month, is it any wonder at all there is so much room for complaint?

Am I just a classically symptomatic millennial, supposedly ‘entitled’ and have too high expectations of the world, or is it really all caving in, crashing down upon us like a sprung booby trap that only Indiana Jones could evade?

If this situation is still apparent when we hit that sweet three-zero mark, then god help us all.

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TV Party: Part One

Alex returns with an insight into a totally normal TV Party. Look out for Part Two on Wednesday.

With a final-half turn of the key, the car fell silent and the young man in the driver’s seat fell out of view, returning moments later with his rucksack in his hand and a cigarette between his lips. The car’s engine cooled, sounded like crickets in a field after dark, and he waited a few moments until the sound ceased. It was a little after six o’clock, and tonight he was hosting a TV party, just like the Black Flag song.

The impetus for the evening had been a short conversation, midweek, about the pain of having to enjoy oneself in the company of those you have few, if any, real associations with. The man’s friend, Cathode, had recently lost a great deal of money in tenuous circumstances. He claimed he owed money to various high-flying gamblers in far-corners of North-West London, but unless he was nocturnal, there was little time for Cathode to spend time with these people. The games, they said, went on for days, and those who saw the poker through emerged from the dark rooms carrying what little of themselves there was left. Cathode was always well-groomed, taking constant care to part his hair in exactly the same place each day. It was assumed his financial losses were linked to his greatest love of all: Magic the Gathering.

The young man’s name was Bulb. Bulb delivered flowers to widows from young admirers and hangers-on. He ran a business that made just enough to cover his expenses, so long as his car held itself together and he based all his meals around couscous. Bulb, like Cathode, was watching each penny he came to possess and so suggested the idea of a TV Party, where the guests brought along their own alcohol and everyone simply covered whatever else they wanted to consume. Bulb offered to put together a programme for the evening’s festivities, whilst Cathode took charge of invites. On that arctic November evening, Bulb took himself to Waitrose to buy his own beer, and in the process, got sucked into a deal offering two pizzas for a fiver.

The programme handed out to the six people in attendance was as follows:

  1. England vs. Scotland – World Cup International Qualifier
  2. Have I Got News For You – Charlie Brooker Guest Presenting
  3. South Park Season 20 Episode 7 – ‘Oh, Jeez’
  4. YouTube Intermission – Play Your Favourite YouTube Videos
  5. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

The guests were pre-warned. There was to be no deviation from the schedule. Both Cathode and Bulb had committed to the order of the evening. Anybody unable to maintain focus would be reminded of their commitment to the night. There was to be no talking over key moments, unless absolutely necessary, like in the case of say a fire, or some kind of medical emergency that required professional assistance. What follows is an account from the personal diary of Bulb. In it, he documents each portion of the evening, how each part was received by its audience and how entertaining each episode was. Any mistakes are his own, as I’ve endeavoured to present it to you unfiltered, so as to be an honest and true narrator, as opposed to an intermediary

1. England vs. Scotland – World Cup International Qualifier

Watching England, like cuckolding, is a complex experience. At times it can be extremely enjoyable, pleasurable even, for the viewer, a fluid and fascinating watch that keeps you on edge at all times, awaiting the next big development. Yes, there is jealousy – these boys get payslips with tax deductions larger than your average yearly earnings. But you respect their ability and their prowess. You may find yourself angry – England have, at many points, taken complete advantage of their fans, the viewers, by promising so much and yet delivering so little. The whole three-way experience is an unequal one, but the viewer accepts this for what it is, so long as they receive some form of gratification.

As luck would have it, the England vs. Scotland game fell into the category of not too bad, which regular England fans will know is a pretty decent outcome for an international fixture. The build-up was, as is always the case with ITV, abysmal. Ryan Giggs seemed to have forgotten his own nationality, commenting ‘We should definitely be winning this’ when remarking about the England side. Gordon Strachan refused to be baited in pre-match questions about the strength of the England side, stating briskly that he was ‘…here to talk about the Scottish team.’ I do wonder whether the chaps who ask questions pre-match would be so cutting if there was a camera pointed at them. As it is they seem to get away with their attempts to induce drama because they know nobody can see them, and so therefore, cannot see their faces contort in all corners as they summon from the depths of their headline-grabbing souls a question that will please their pals at The S*n the next morning. ITV is shit, there’s really no two-ways about it, and I’ll never take a TV station seriously that cut for a one-minute commercial immediately after the national-anthems.

The match itself was not one for history books, and England started poorly. Luckily, Scotland were even worse and so we ended up winning 3-0. Headers seemed to be the order of the night, and we all got to see Daniel Sturridge’s big tongue. Cathode, a football refuser, commented that it would have been more exciting if while celebrating, Sturridge had pulled a stanley knife from his pocket and sheared off his taster, before lobbing it into the crowd, or perhaps alternatively into the face of a nearby defender. I did wonder about Cathode right then, whether in fact his lack of money could be some kind of mysterious front to cover a successful life as a torturer.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the match, everyone else turned up. There was Channel, Remote, Receiver and Aerial. I got a text later on in the night from Dish, apologising for his absence, on account of the fact he was stuck on a roof somewhere and couldn’t get down.

2. Have I Got News For You – Charlie Brooker Guest Presenting

In the late nineties, I would find myself kneeling by a table, covered in empty curry boxes and bottles of red wine, listening to the sound of my parents laughing at the jokes emerging from Ian Hislop’s mouth. These evenings at my uncle’s house were golden and Have I Got News for You was like the friend you invite round because you just know they bring that element of class and humour that you simply don’t have. Watching it now, very little has changed except the episodes seem far shorter and Ian Hislop’s got three new chins he gets to play with.

It’s been a rather strange week in the world, and Have I Got News for You seemed well placed to lampoon the week’s events, to try and cheer everyone up just a notch or eleven. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they ‘knocked it out the park’, but there were several moments of wonderful comedy, delivered largely by Hislop and Paul Merton (although his extended, repeated gags in relation to the Toblerone scandal grew quite tiresome) that kept the TV Party vibe alive. By this point, most of us were into our second beer and I was onto my fourth. On Friday, it takes a long time for me to feel relaxed, having spent the day in the motor, surrounded by bouquets, feeling light headed from the variety of olfactory delights in my little Polo. Beer is a wonderful settler, gradually building itself from a mild warmth to a full on straightener. In the company of the television, it works charms, giving each joke that little bit extra punch. Perhaps Have I Got News for You wasn’t that funny? Either way, we all laughed at least once a minute for half an hour, which is the intention behind a comedy panel show, right?

Check back on Wednesday for more TV Party.